Guide to Planning a Mountain Gorilla Safari

While planning for a gorilla safari in Africa, it is better to plan and make all the necessary arrangements well in advance. There are only three destinations where mountain gorillas are found. These are three neighboring countries are; Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. The mountain gorillas live within two ranges; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the Virunga Massif.

The Virunga Mountains straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are home to around 480 mountain gorillas, more than half of the world’s entire population. The rest of the gorilla population live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Look into the eyes of a large silver back gorilla and he’ll look back with a thinking, intelligent gaze, mindful that you’re another individual. Any apprehensions or nerves you might have had during your trek will melt away the minute you see your gorilla family.

Where to Go

Within the Virunga Massif, there are three national parks that protect the great apes. Amongst these, the Volcanoes National Park in Northern Rwanda is the most popular place to go gorilla trekking.

Within the Volcanoes National Park, the Rwandan part of the Virunga, ten gorilla groups are now habituated for gorilla safaris, more than anywhere else in the world. Gorilla trekking safaris offer a magical encounter that transcends any other ‘wildlife’ experience we know. This is enjoyed only when you book gorilla permits, a requirement for all travelers looking into mountain gorilla treks. Tourists taking gorilla tours in Rwanda pay USD1500 for the gorilla permit in Rwanda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Thereafter you can cross to Mgahinga National Park a Ugandan mountain Gorilla habitat with one group. The moment you visit the park, the welcoming atmosphere is an evidence of adventure filled of natural beauty. A day’s trek through the forests of Mgahinga with a well trained guide who explains the gorillas’ behaviors along the way is a lifetime experience.

Normally, gorilla trekking in Mgahinga starts from Ntebeko Entrance gate at around 8:00amin the morning daily taking 2-4 hours. A visitor is expected to budget for his/her time well while with a gorilla family since the maximum time allowed to spend with them is one hour. This park sits high in the clouds making it convenient to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests. The eye contact to these gorillas also swipe away all the doubts you have about this group. These are somehow shy but strong and mind their own business giving you the opportunity to take all photo shots. The gorilla  permit in Uganda cost 600 US dollars for the gorilla permit to enjoy such a lifetime safari.

Virunga National Park

To experience Congo Gorilla trekking you have to book permit at 400 US dollars for the gorilla permit. It is known for being the cheapest among the three countries. Experience a trip with road blocks until you sight a gorilla. Gorilla trekking in the Virunga national park has some strict rules and regulations that are supposed to be followed by the trackers on their Congo gorilla safari expeditions.

Gorilla Etiquette

These include; group size to the maximum of eight people per day, the groups to track per day as well as the time allowed spending with the mountain gorillas to one hour. This is also done to ensure the well being of these endangered animals. This is because the gorillas are susceptible to many human diseases due to the great closeness between the humans and the mountain gorilla. It is also on record that to track the gorilla you must be at the age of 15 and above.

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